A farmer harvesting beetroot
(Photo: Maryviolet/iStock)

By Jenny Holtermann, President, Kern County Farm Bureau 

Grassroots organizations, like the Kern County Farm Bureau, were created as a means to provide farmers and ranchers with an advocative voice. These organizations only work when those voices are heard and when true two-way communication is happening. In February, we started what I hope will become an annual series of Tailgate Talks. We designed Tailgate Talks to bring key issues to KCFB. As farmers and agriculturalists, we are busy people. Attending meetings and workshops can be overwhelming and traveling to Bakersfield from our farms can be an all-day event. Tailgate Talks allow us to bring those key issues to you.  

February kickstarted the Tailgate Talks with three topics: DWR technical assistance, Card Check overview, and CAL/OSHA updates from the first of the year. We brought these topics to Western Stockman’s feed lot to come to the North end of the county and meet farmers closer to the fields.  

Our second Tailgate Talk of the year is scheduled for June 5 at 11 a.m. at the Buttonwillow Lion’s Den. We have the privilege of hosting two knowledgeable speakers. Bryan Little, a representative from FELS, will enlighten us about the new indoor heat illness requirements and WVPP (Workplace Violence Prevention Program). Stephanie Hearn of GEI and the SGMA Coordination Committee will provide an update and status overview of the SGMA. Their expertise and insights promise to make this event highly informative and beneficial for all attendees.  

These are two very important updates. FELS is a Farm Bureau organization that assists farm employers in complying with agriculture labor laws and avoiding labor relations problems. They work together to ensure farm employers know the latest laws and regulations and work in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., to prevent more stringent policies. Indoor Heat Illness and WVPP are two new programs that farmers will need to comply with.  

The SGMA Coordination Committee has been meeting weekly along with a Technical Committee of stakeholders, water district representatives, water engineers, and consultants to ensure our Kern Basin SGMA plan is well organized and that management is on the same page. Stephanie will present how things are different this time around—as they work on yet another revision to the SGMA plan. I have heard from multiple interests about the desire to increase coordination and work together. I know many of us would find it educational to get an update on the plan and status overview.  

Our decision to host the event in Buttonwillow is aimed at attracting more members and farmers from the west side of Kern County. These events are a privilege for our members, offering them a unique opportunity to stay informed and engaged. Even if you are not a member, we welcome you to attend and consider joining our community. Membership offers a range of benefits, and we will be accepting sign-ups at the event. We are committed to hosting these grassroots events to ensure our members are well-informed and connected to the issues that impact our industry.  

At the end of the summer, we hope to have another Tailgate Talk geared toward elections. Kern County Farm Bureau is actively meeting with political candidates over the next few months. If we decide to endorse candidates, we will host a meet-and-greet with them so members can speak directly to them.  

Not just educational opportunities but also two-way communication are necessities of grassroots organizations. At events or at any time, our members can call or email us with any issue they need help with. The Farm Bureau is here for you—we are your voice. If we do not know your issues, we cannot help you. Let us know how we can help.  

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